Nissan have called in NASA to develop driverless cars - and testing is expected to begin by the end of 2015, the carmaker announced.
During the five-year research and development partnership, NASA’s Ames Research centre in California will focus on self-driving systems, network applications, software analysis and verification as well as developing a ‘human-machine interface’, all fitted into Nissan’s eco-friendly Leaf models.
The Ames facility is famed for developing the Mars rover planning software, robots on board the International Space Station and many of the air traffic management systems the world relies on.
Nissan's chief executive Carlos Ghosn said: "The work of NASA and Nissan – with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges.
"The partnership will accelerate Nissan's development of safe, secure and reliable autonomous drive technology that we will progressively introduce to consumers beginning in 2016 up to 2020."
While Nissan will gain from the leading space agency’s robotics and software expertise, NASA will equally benefit from the carmaker’s knowledge of car mechanics to improve its robotics for future space missions, the firm said in a statement.
Nissan added that it believes its driverless cars will be on the market by 2020.
The announcement came as government-backed driverless car pilots - at a cost of £19 million - begin this month.
Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata were given the green light to test legal, safety and regulation issues as well as the mechanical and technological obstacles an autonomous car poses in partnership with UK cities.
Self-driving car technology stole the show at consumer technology show CES in Vegas this week, some examples including Audi’s chief executive summoning a car to the stage using a smartwatch and Ford’s light-detection technology to detect pedestrians.